When people hear the term Duke, there’s typically two reactions. You either love them or you hate them. Much of the world seems to harbor hatred for the well known institution of Duke University, particularly the men’s basketball team and Coach Mike Krzyzewski. I, however, am a huge Duke basketball fan.
One of the things that drew me to Duke basketball, was coaching. From 2006-2010, I coached boys high school basketball. During that time, I got the chance to attend two Duke coaching clinics put on by Coach K and his staff.
The success of Coach K and the program he has built at Duke over the past 35 years is impressive, regardless of how much one might hate the team. He is the all-time winningest men’s division one basketball coach and first to reached 1,000 wins, accomplished on Sunday (1/25).
Impressive as things might look from the outside, it’s all the more impressive when you have the chance to go inside Cameron Indoor Stadium and sit through practices. EXCELLENCE! It’s the only word to describe it. We’d watch Coach K run practices, and while wearing a microphone, he would frequently turn to the coaches attending the clinic and talk about their methods, team expectations and specific practice scenarios. The level of excellence was eye-opening. Even the managers did everything on a sprint. A plaque in the foyer of Cameron Indoor read this managers motto: The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little bit longer.
Managers Motto: The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little bit longer.
Of all these things, what makes Coach K praiseworthy and successful, in my opinion, is his philosophy of discipleship. His philosophy is more than just basketball and winning games. Coach K has a vision to turn immature college boys into successful, responsible men. A recent example is junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon being dismissed from the team for “not consistently living up to the standards required to be a member of the program.” Coach K leads an impeccable discipleship program, and although it’s not Christ-centered, it is built around a philosophy that Jesus lived and the Church should take notice of.
Coach K’s current coaching staff is comprised not of random guys who are good at coaching basketball, but HIS OWN guys, that he’s trained and raised up in his program.
- Jeff Capel (Associate Head Coach) played for Coach K from 1993-1997.
- Nate James (Assistant Coach) played for Coach K from 1996-2001.
- Jon Scheyer (Assistant Coach) played for Coach K from 2006-2010.
Formerly, Coach K’s staff was comprised of guys who played for him, then coached with him and now are influential college basketball leaders and coaches around the country.
- Jay Bilas played for Coach K from 1982-1986, assisted under Coach K for 3 years (1990-1992), became a play-by-play commentator for The Duke Radio Network (1993) and since 1995 has been a commentator and studio analyst for ESPN.
- Tommy Amaker played for Coach K from 1983-1987, assisted under Coach K for 9 years (1988-1997), then became head coach at Seton Hall (1997-2001), Michigan (2001-2007) and currently Harvard University (since 2007) (13 total years under Coach K).
- Johnny Dawkins played for Coach K from 1982-1986, assisted under Coach K for 10 years (1998-2008) and since 2008 has been the head coach at Stanford University (14 total years under Coach K).
- Chris Collins played for Coach K from 1992-1996, assisted under Coach K for 13 years (2000-2013) and since 2013 has been the head coach at Northwestern University (17 total years under Coach K).
- Steve “Wojo” Wojciechowski played for Coach K from 1994-1998, assisted under Coach K for 15 years (1999-2014) and is in his first season as head coach at Marquette University (19 years total years under Coach K).
So why do I say the Church should take notice of this? The mission of the Church is to make disciples — to train and raise up followers of Jesus Christ who will know Him, love Him, give their lives for Him and teach others to do the same. What would it look like if the emphasis in our discipleship was, like Coach K, about inviting people into our lives, not just for a couple practices and games but for years at a time, to learn under us as players, then lead with us as leaders and then be sent out by us. What if we sought to develop not just good “players of the game” but great men and women who will learn from our lives and then be sent out to do what they saw us do. What if we developed a training model that wasn’t just about basketball or some other interesting thing in life, but was about Jesus and the multiplication model he gave us.
2 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV)
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
The Christian calling as disciples of Jesus is to invest our lives into people and train them up to embrace and live out the gospel and teach others to do the same. THIS is the mission of God’s people. It’s not just the job of the pastor or the super-spiritual Christian (whoever that is). This is simply what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ; and as the Church, we must stop looking for and defining success by any other rubric.
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES!